As part of the Visual Studio 2015 release there have been enhancements to the integration of Visual Studio Online (VSO) inside of the IDE as well as some new features to VSO itself. To start out with, I imagine that many believe that Visual Studio Online is an online version of the Visual Studio IDE. Sorry to disappoint you but it is not a fully fledged IDE. There are however, many great things in VSO including some code editing features. This post isn’t about the detail of VSO, so if you want to find out more you can get details about all the features of VSO here.
We are going to take a look at how to connect the Visual Studio IDE and VSO for the rest of the post. To start out with, we are going to find that the integration between Visual Studio and VSO is really slick and easy to connect. The first thing we need to do is open up Visual Studio 2015 and select the ‘Team Explorer’ window. You should immediately be presented with a “Connect” option for VSO. If you don’t already have a VSO account, you can use the “Get Started for Free” button. As the message implies, setting up an account is free for up to 5 users.
Once you are connected to VSO you will have the opportunity to select an existing project or create a new project. Either way, after you connect to your project you will be prompted to sync the source control. I should back up and say VSO has the option to setup either Team Foundation Version Control (TFVC) or Git. In my example I am using Git. I won’t go in to depth on this subject but if you are looking for information about Git there is a great article by Steve Smith on our team located here.
If you have gotten this far then you are ready to use all the other features that are part of VSO. The first of these features are Automated Build. The build system in VSO is amazingly good and well worth a look if you are interested in build services. One of my other team members, Tillman, will be working on a post all about automated build in VSO so stay make sure you look for that on the blog.
The last integration feature I want to talk about is Work Item tracking. Unfortunately, I think this is one of the most overlooked integration in Visual Studio. The integration between Visual Studio and VSO in this aspect actually has a really good workflow to keep developers in their environment. Having said that, developer are not the only people who use work item tracking so sometime the compromise is not VSO but another tool that someone else chooses outside the developer eco-system. If you need work item tracking, then you and your team should certainly give this a go.
Overall the integration with Microsoft Visual Studio and Visual Studio Online is pretty great and is always getting better. If you haven’t done so, now would be a good time explore and see if you find something you and your team like about these tools.